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View Diary: Books So Bad They're Good: Octagonal Houses and the Science of Sex (114 comments)

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  •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
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    the remains and  final resting places of Native Americans were "fair game" not just to treasure hunters but to scientists. Times have changed -- thank goodness.

    I recall reading (can't vouch for the accuracy of this account) about a mid-19th Century army surgeon who, faced with performing surgery on a man who'd suffered a brain injury, agreed to attempt it if someone would bring him a skull from one of the islands in the Columbia River where local tribes took their dead. IIRC, after a little practice he supposedly performed the surgery successfully.

    •  There's also the rumor about Geronimo's skull (2+ / 0-)
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      RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper

      Somehow ending up at the Skull & Bones Society clubhouse in New Haven.  It's not true (thank God), but seriously, there were a LOT of people in the 19th century who were seriously obsessed with other people's skeletal remains.

      •  They were excited about scientific discovery (1+ / 0-)
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        and, while they wouldn't think of mistreating the remains or "their" group, it seems as though other people in foreign places were like plants and animals, part of a "primitive" culture that they could use as they pleased. It's very hard to understand.

        •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
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          The casual racism and condescension of that time period is, to say the least, breathtaking.

          •  I've noticed this in re-reading books (1+ / 0-)
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            from the WW and post-war eras. I never even noticed the racist, sexist language when I read these years ago. After all, it surrounded you every day and was used so commonly and so casually it made little impression.

            Now, even though I still enjoy these stories the language is like a slap in the face. Even when -- maybe especially when -- it's clear the author's attitudes aren't necessarily racist/sexist but just an unthinking reflection of the world around them.

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